Chelsea won their midweek fixture against Swansea City thanks to a solitary goal from Antonio Rudiger in the 54th minute of the match. But the Blues will hardly have any time to rest after the game as they welcome Newcastle United on Saturday.
Chelsea are currently third on the Premier League table – 9 points behind leaders Manchester City and to be very honest their title defence hopes have long been vapourised. Now Conte’s biggest challenge for the season will be to finish as close to the top as possible and also to avoid sliding down below the third place.
Newcastle, on the other hand, are 12th in the league table with just 15 points and pressure is building on Rafa Benitez to pull his team up the table. Newcastle drew their midweek fixture against West Brom after they came from 2 goals down to end the match at 2-2.
CHELSEA VS NEWCASTLE TEAM NEWS:
Antonio Conte will have most of the first team at his disposal but a major headache will definitely be on the defensive front. David Luiz has been ruled out with a knee injury and thus the Italian manager will not have the luxury to rotate his defenders and give some of them a much-deserved rest.
The trio of Rudiger, Christensen and Cahill started the game vs Swansea and only one of them will get a rest on Saturday as Azpilicueta will move back into the starting XI. David Zappacosta will also be rested for the game as Victor Moses will return back to his right wing-back duties after a long injury lay off.
Chelsea will likely see a reshuffle in the midfield area too as Fabregas is expected to be benched versus Newcastle with Danny Drinkwater taking up the midfield duties alongside former Leicester City teammate N’Golo Kante.
Willian and Pedro both started the midweek game versus Swansea and one of them will definitely make way for Eden Hazard during Saturday’s fixture. Conte will have no other option but to start the match with Alvaro Morata, as his other striker – Michy Batshuayi, who remains sidelined with an injury.
CHELSEA VS NEWCASTLE PREDICTED LINE-UP:
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois.
Defence: Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen.
Midfield: Moses, Drinkwater, Kante, Alonso.
Attack: Hazard, Morata, Pedro.